Gartner Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies 2016

Perhaps more so than ever before, the 2016 Gartner Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies zeroes in on big data applications and where they are in the eyes of the market.

Let’s first start by taking a look at this year’s edition of the Gartner Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies:

Gartner Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies 2016

We have discussed what the Hype Cycle means and how to read it in the past, so in this case, we’re simply going to focus on what the trends indicate and what we can expect to see in this space in the coming year, largely from a marketing perspective.

Augmented Reality: Poised for a Boom

Augmented reality has long been headed towards the Trough of Disillusionment. While the concept has been interesting for quite some time, universal and practical applications for the existing technology have not really existed.

Enter Pokémon GO.

The Hype Cycle might show augmented reality in the Trough, though it is likely a little closer than 5 to 10 years from mainstream adoption based on the speed with which an existing AR platform swept the public. Now, of course, hype and nostalgia had a lot to do with it, but it is still telling of how much closer we are than we might have once believed. There is clearly a market for functional AR, and we can expect to see marketers, developers and brands both large and small trying to capitalize on this reality (moving AR into the Slope of Enlightenment sooner than expected, maybe even passing Virtual Reality in that timeframe).

The Singularity Cometh

“One cubic inch of nanotube circuitry, once fully developed, would be up to one hundred million times more powerful than the human brain,” Ray Kurzweil wrote in The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology. If we look at the Innovation Trigger on the Cycle and follow that through the Peak of Inflated Expectations, we can see that this statement is on the verge of becoming a reality.

The use of data, machine learning and deep neural networks is what makes up so much of the 2016 Hype Cycle, and while it might be over a decade before much of what is in the works becomes commonplace, the point here is that it is all in the works.

Machine learning is already marked as 2 to 5 years away, despite the fact that it sits atop the Peak of Inflated Expectations. That is largely because its applications can really only be refined and developed further once a breakthrough is made. So the transition through the Trough of Disillusionment will be rather quick (comparatively speaking). Another reason for that is the accessibility (as compared to more cost-prohibitive developments, such as virtual reality). Machine learning and neural networks are slowly making their way into everyday items thanks to open sourced code and technology. This will mean a very subtle but profound technological revolution will arrive in a very short period of time.

A Business Shift

Lastly, a major paradigm shift comes in the form of the workspace. We recently discussed how there were more marketing technologies than ever after ChiefMarTec.com released its annual Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic (shown below).

More marketing technologies than ever

While we are more than likely to see consolidation in most (if not all) of these spaces, we will likely also see a budding new marketplace for friendly business and marketing tech. What do we mean by that? In essence, a move away from the competitive nature of technology landscapes and into a more cohesive network will lead to changing strategies for both the marketers and the tech companies. It’ll be interesting to watch that shift unfold.

Conclusion

Again, there is a lot on the horizon, but much of what is listed in this Hype Cycle seems quite a ways off (even more so than usual). That said, the speed of transformation is at an all time high, so we can be all but certain that while these emerging technologies may seem like a ways off, they will be a part of mainstream applications before we know it.

A Few Social Data Sources

Building a comprehensive social business strategy means paying close attention to your social data sources.

The key to any successful organization’s strategy is almost certainly data-driven. That is especially true when it comes to your social business or campaign strategy. In order to find continued success, you’ll need to ensure that you have established your data as a tentpole moving forward. The only way to do that is to properly identify your social data sources and take full advantage of what they are telling you.

Data is everywhere, and each marketer might find value in a particular area that another marketer may not. That said, the three data sources outlined here (and featured in the image below, which you can feel free to share) are largely universal, and every marketer can begin taking advantage of these social data sources right away!

Owned Social Media

This might seem obvious, but for one reason or another, so many marketers refuse to dive into the mountains of data that exist right within their social channels. Of course, you have access to your page insights, but exporting and modeling your page and post data and diving further into your audience insights (using email lists, for example) can provide significantly more information. Not only will you be able to craft far more tailored messages, you will have a grander sense of your hypertargeted audience clusters, and can begin to leverage those insights in order to improve the performance of your ad campaigns, content strategies, etc.

Web Analytics

It is estimated that between 30 and 50 million websites are currently using Google Analytics. It is also very likely that you are currently using Google Analytics, or have some other web analytics system installed on your website. These dashboards are filled with important insights that can help you improve not only your marketing but your business strategies as a whole. Whether you are trying to get a better sense of your visitors’ paths, or identify what sources and content lead to a higher conversion at a lower cost, your web analytics dashboard can provide you with that information.

Tools & Technologies

Products like Brandwatch, Sysomos, Radian6 and more might be labeled as industry or social listening tools, but the reality is that they are so much more. These products are actually data collection and visualization tools that can help you vastly improve your marketing and content initiatives. They range in price – on the low end there are free options, and on the high end there are enterprise versions – but they are readily available and provide exceptional insights. What’s more, virtually any piece of technology used in order to facilitate the execution of a strategy will provide certain insights it collects, and those are often very useful while trying to consolidate your communications efforts and optimize your strategy.

To find out more about leveraging data in order to build your marketing strategy, come to my session at the Social Media Strategies Summit in Dallas, August 17th. Hope to see you there!

You Social Data Sources

Properly Analyze Your Social Data [eBook]

Taking control of your social data is easier than you might think.

In our latest instalment of our ‘How 2 with t2’ eBook series, we cover a topic that has long been a focal point of the marketing world: social data. For a lot of marketers, this is an intimidating topic. The industry has framed social data as an almost divine entity, far too complex and vast for any average marketer to comprehend. In this eBook, our goal is to simplify the concept and highlight some of the easiest ways any marketer can start to use these data.

The topics covered include the process of sourcing some of the most valuable data that exist for both the brand and industry, structuring these data in order to identify certain opportunities, and how best to execute campaigns that leverage these new opportunities.

Ultimately, the objective is simple: we want marketers to think small about BIG DATA!

Find out more by downloading the social data analysis eBook here.

How To Properly Analyze Social Data eBook

3 Things Many Marketers Forget in a Digital Marketing Strategy

This article originally appeared on CoreyPadveen.com.

There are some things that even the most knowledgeable of marketers might be forgetting to include in their digital marketing strategy.

A digital marketing strategy is a pretty robust thing. With that in mind, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that most marketers and business owners often forget about a few important components that need to be included in a digital marketing strategy in order for it to be successful.

Like I said, there is a ton that needs to be considered in order to build a working strategy, and just because these three components are included, it does not mean that it’s a finished product. But they are important and they are going to help your brand grow online. That said, here are three elements that need to be a part of every digital marketing strategy in order for it to find success.

Social Media Advertising

Gone are the days when paid advertising was a luxury afforded to the largest and wealthiest of brands. Even in more recent years, digital advertising, which consisted primarily of Google AdWords and banner ads, was too grand a cost for most brands to bare. Now, with social media advertising becoming more commonplace (and about as simple a practice as any) all brands can and should be taking advantage of it.

A few months ago, I conducted a little internal case study/experiment in order to showcase the cost effectiveness of social media advertising when compared to ‘traditional’ digital advertising, Google AdWords. I decided to look at a relevant and pretty competitive keyword: ‘social media’. What I found was that on a CPC and CPM basis, social media advertising could be nearly ten times more cost effective when targeting the right demographics on social media (another value added).

Include social media advertising in your digital marketing strategy

So the question becomes, why are brands not jumping on the opportunity to build their digital presence by including a section devoted to social media advertising in their digital marketing strategies? The proof is in the numbers, and the more you work with social ads, the simpler and more successful they become to achieving business-specific goals.

Data-Backed Strategy

I’ve grown to accept that data is not for everyone; I guess my attraction to numbers makes me an anomaly. But if you don’t like data, at least do the longevity of your business a favor and find someone who can help you analyze data and incorporate it into your strategy. Hypothetical marketing plans are a thing of the past. We have a world of insights at our fingertips – literally!

Build your digital marketing strategies using your data

Delving into your owned media (i.e. any digital media that you are in total control of, such as your website or branded social media channels) and industry media (using a listening or data aggregating technology) can produce some incredibly valuable information. This information can help you create things like content strategies, help you identify new demographics and opportunities and begin building ResponsiveBrandingTM campaigns.

Don’t let a distaste for numbers deprive you of a huge amount of potential. Let the data be the driving force behind your digital marketing strategy, and let it reinvent your strategy as it changes.

Influence Marketing

We often hear a lot about influence and influencers, but what exactly are we talking about when we say ‘influence marketing’? Leveraging the power of influencers can launch your brand into a new realm and expand your reach and your own influence in the marketplace. Why is that? It all comes down to trust.

According to the results of the 2014 Edelman Trust Barometer – an annual, global trust and credibility survey – 67% of people trust experts in a particular field, and 62% of people trust their peers (or, as the study puts it, ‘a person like yourself’). The beauty of influencers is that they can be – and often are – both of those things: industry experts that people consider their peers (in large part thanks to social media and its ability to connect people).

2014 Edelman Trust Barometer for your digital marketing strategy

By identifying your industry’s influencers and reaching out to them, you can forge relationships that can turn into brand advocacy. This can be an invaluable asset when looking to build your business not only in the short term, but in the long run as well.

Conclusion

There is a lot that will go into your digital marketing strategy. These three assets will only be a small part of the overall product, but they can play an important role in the overall success of your business, and so few people are properly taking advantage of them. Next time you review your business strategies, consider including these three elements in your digital marketing plan.

The Rise and Fall of Big Data Hype

We are still a few years away from fully utilizing big data, but we have now moved past all the big data hype.

Every year, Gartner releases their Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies, and in 2014, we can see that big data hype is on its way out, and we can now start to focus on its practical applications, rather than focusing only on the broad concept itself.

Gartner Big Data Hype

Source: Gartner

We can clearly see that there are five stages of response to emerging technologies, and when we look at where things like the Internet of Things (right on top of the Peak of Inflated Expectations) and Speech Recognition fall (in the Plateau of Productivity), we start to get an understanding of what these different categories are.

Essentially, in the lifecycle of an emerging technology, use cases, excitement surrounding and responses to a product or concept vary considerably based on where the product or concept falls in the hype cycle. It is once it leaves the Peak of Inflated Expectations that we can begin to identify its real, valuable applications and it can be applied to a variety of markets at scale.

Where was ‘Big Data’ before?

For a long time, we have found big data in the Peak. Some examples of this are sites like Spurious Correlations, and Google Flu Trends. There is a lot of hype, but little value pulled from the applications. Moreover, there is little proof of concept.

With regards to business applications, the concept of big data was shrouded in hype and preached with excitement, but there wasn’t much of a business case made for quite some time. We knew that the vast amounts of data that were being collected could be beneficial to our operations, but for the time being it was simply unstructured data that could be used in a few tests and unproven methods.

Slowly, people started to realize that, while the applications could be developed, they hadn’t yet been perfected.

What is meant by ‘Disillusionment’?

As we can see in the chart above, big data is headed in to the Trough of Disillusionment. What exactly does that mean? Will we see the abandonment of big data by some brands, or even entire industries?

Not quite.

Essentially, as people begin to get somewhat of a grasp on big data – at least conceptually – they are beginning to feel a degree of disappointment in what it can currently offer. There are quite a few companies that have found unique, creative and valuable ways to use these data sets, but for the majority of brands (even the majority of industries) this has not yet been the case.

Currently, the big data hype that we have seen surround the fields of marketing, sales and operations is dying down. People are realizing that there is no magical solution that will be made clear simply by “using” big data. Data sets are tools, and brands are starting to realize that in order to use these tools, they need to become intimately familiar with their inner workings within their own brands and industries.

What is coming next?

Though the big data hype seen over the last few years may be quieting down, it does not mean that the applications surrounding big data will be abandoned. There are still plenty of startups and established companies that are looking for new and useful ways to use these data so that we eventually find ourselves in the Plateau of Productivity.

Now these data are being pulled and used for things like predictive analytics, business intelligence and other exciting emerging fields. The key for brands now is to think about data on a micro scale.

It might sound somewhat paradoxical, but in order for brands of all sizes to start taking advantage of their data, they will need to approach it on a smaller scale. When large brands have hundreds of terabytes if not petabytes of data, they can afford to run comprehensive tests because there are proofs that can be found within these data. For smaller brands that might not have all that information, they need to think about their information somewhat differently.

Looking at smaller data sets that are specific to a given initiative, social network or ad campaign can provide plenty of valuable information ranging from targeted audience, to high-performing campaign types to rhetoric on social media that outperforms the competition.

Thinking about data in this way will help move us through move us through to the Slope of Enlightenment, and eventually allow all brands to be as productive as possible using their data.

Predictive Analytics for Data Beginners: An Introduction

Predictive analytics are on the rise in terms of popularity and importance, and for data beginners, they can be quite intimidating.

Imagine a world where you could predict what would happen before it ever took place and be able to plan accordingly. It might sound like something H.G. Wells would write about, but in fact, this is the world we’re living in; this is the world of predictive analytics.

Predictive Analytics for Data Beginners

Although some people see predictive analytics as a subset of the world of big data, it can easily be studied as an entirely separate phenomenon. That’s because predictive analytics can be leveraged in a number of different ways, and in each of these unique use cases, one needs to take an entirely different approach.

Here, we’ll be looking at the concept at a rather high level so that we can begin to understand exactly what the school of predictive analytics is, and how we can begin viewing data with this new perspective.

There are two ways in which predictive analytics can be defined, and those definitions are determined by your approach from either the sales side or the marketing side. To start understanding the world of predictive analytics, we need to first be able to understand the concept’s applications, so here we’ll really focus on definitions. Let’s start simply with a look at predictive data from the marketing side.

Predictive Analytics in Marketing

When it comes to marketing, predictive analytics are rooted in two main criteria: trends and correlations. Effectively, we want to be monitoring trends and velocity of conversation to determine if there is a topic gaining momentum and exponentially increasing in mentions.

When this is seen, we can begin identifying opportunities for conversation topics that are far more likely to resonate with a target audience based on the fact that there is clearly an uptick in popularity around the subject.

With regards to correlations, we want to pay attention to any outliers or high-value influence points that might indicate an industry or conversational shift. Again, watching these influence points actually change the rate at which a conversation is growing can help marketers understand where they should be positioning their brand in order to have the greatest impact and decrease the conversion time.

On the sales side, predictive analytics are somewhat different.

Predictive Analytics in Sales

The main point of contrast when it comes to these kinds of data in the sales world has to do with your pipeline. Predictive analytics for sales are much more about identifying opportunities both within your sales pipeline and in adjacent markets (which we’ll get to shortly).

There is no shortage of tools on the market that can provide insights into activity within your pipeline (e.g. Predixion, SiSense, C9, Lattice, etc.) and these insights will tell you where potential exists to close a deal, and what that potential deal might be worth.

These insights range anywhere from lead scores based on the speed with which a prospect is moving through the funnel to opportunities based on rhetoric and activity on multiple networks (including research being done on your own website, separate from a sales rep). All of these insights are gathered and analyzed to provide you with an understanding of where your greatest chances for success might exist, and where you should be focusing your sales efforts for the easiest close.

Where the Two Meet

So where exactly do these two worlds – the sales and marketing worlds – collide? This has to do with an analysis of trends and topic conversation velocity in different markets and among different demographics and providing you with those insights so that you can begun prospecting in a new market ripe for opportunity.

Using both of these concepts together can mean a better understanding of your target consumer, a more efficient use of your resources and, perhaps most importantly, a chance to capitalize on opportunities before your competitors.

Conclusion

There is a lot involved in the world of predictive analytics, and it is a fast growing and very exciting space. A basic understanding of what the term means and how the industry works (on a very simplistic level) is a good start to taking advantage of all that these insights can offer your brand.

Have you worked with predictive analytics at all? What kinds of successes or difficulties have you seen? Tell us in the comments below or on Twitter!

Where to Find Your Social Data

Social data is everywhere, and these are a few of the places where you can find it.

We constantly hear people talking about big and social data, and the concept of using these social data in order to build strategies, identify opportunities and construct campaigns is quite exciting. The issue we face, however, is that it is not entirely clear where we can find these social data in order to begin harnessing their value.

These sources are just a few of the places where social data exists and where it can be extrapolated and used in order to achieve any one of the above-mentioned goals.

Owned Social Media

This is a given. Your owned social media – any account that is owned and operated by your brand on networks like Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, to name a few – possess mountains of data that can be mined and analyzed for your own needs.

Raw data might not look very exciting (see the Excel spreadsheet below) but for anyone who knows how to use it, it certainly is.

Sourcing your social data to build strategies effectively

Screen Taken 6-27-14

You can export reports and analyze data sets directly from networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and now Google+ with their latest My Business feature. This data can then be manipulated in a number of ways to serve your own purposes.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is the example, but virtually any platform used to monitor web traffic provides us with an exorbitant amount of data – and not just web data, either. (Google Analytics was chosen because of the websites that monitor their traffic, roughly 95% use Google Analytics.)

Social data can be found in Google Analytics

Screenshot Taken 1-28-2014

While most people use Google Analytics simply to monitor web traffic, the social menu (shown above as a subsection beneath the Acquisition tab) provides some detailed reports on the activities taken by your social audience. Learn their tastes and interests using Universal Analytics, study their behavior on your website looking at things like the Users Flow chart and begin to craft strategies that you know will appeal to these interests and habits.

This process can be further optimized by using Goals and Filters in Google Analytics to begin filtering out traffic and focusing only on a social network, for example, then setting goals to measure the effectiveness of campaigns or strategies on different networks.

Social data is found with goals and filters in Google Analytics

Screenshot Taken 1-28-2014

Social Media Monitoring and Listening Technologies

There are no shortage of technologies that exist on the market that make it easy for brands to collect and analyze copious amounts of social data – from industry data right down to competitor insights.

Tools range anywhere from free or inexpensive platforms that provide some fairly useful insights – like Mention, for example – to high-end enterprise level tools that run in-depth analyses on the data collected and provide you with some extremely useful reports – tools such as Crimson Hexagon.

Social data collected from Crimson Hexagon

Image Credit: Crimson Hexagon

Social Ad Reports

Social advertising is still in a state of infancy, and therefore, a state of complete affordability. A small injection of cash can lead to major – and very measurable – results. Those results are full of valuable data (because these results go into greater detail about the activities taken by your audience).

When or after running a social ad campaign, collect all of your data, download all of your reports and really start to analyze the results to see where opportunities exist, what you might be able to learn about your target demographics, and how you can turn this small investment into some hugely beneficial strategies that generate equally impressive (if not more impressive) organic results.

Conclusion

While there is data everywhere, these are just a few of the places where brands can begin sourcing and mining their own data. These insights can then be moulded into whatever you need them to be. The beauty of raw data is that they are simply numbers until something is done with them. So they are completely in your control. And as we all know, control is nice to have when trying to build a brand on social media.

Where do you look for social data? Tell us in the comments below or on Twitter!

Turning Big Data Into Smart Data

Big data is an exciting concept and we hear a lot about it, but we need to get our data working towards achieving business goals.

Big data is exciting. We hear about it everywhere we go. There are virtually limitless applications for these kinds of data, but when it comes to our businesses, we need to ensure that our own big data is working towards achieving the goals we have set for ourselves. This is the difference between your average big data, and smart data. But how exactly can we get our data working for us? Not all of us are mathematicians, and with the exception of a few of us, not everyone is all that well versed in mass data analysis. So what are we to do?

The beauty of social data is the fact that it is delivered to us in about as useful a form as data can be presented. We simply have to deduce what our social data is telling us, and turn that into an effective strategy or set of strategies.

The set of strategies listed below are easily optimized through the strategic leveraging of big data from your owned social media. Take a look at the process and see if there is any opportunity you might have missed out on!

Content Strategy

If there is one thing that your data is telling you it is how you should optimize your content for increased engagement and conversions. If you’re wondering what exactly a content strategy is, and how it differs from content marketing, click here. The gist of the concept is that your content strategy is the reason why your audience engages with your brand, based on the types of content and the messages that you are publishing. Your content marketing is the process of leveraging that connection in order to acquire new customers.

Your data is providing you with a world of insight into what types of content will resonate best with your target audience. Look for spikes in engagement and reach, correlations among those spikes and identify exactly how you can craft content that you know will increase overall engagement with your brand.

Think about it this way: say you analyze your data and notice six spikes in the last month where reach and engagement skyrocketed. You look at the content shared at each of those six points and note that at each point in time, your content was shared in the afternoon, featured an image and was posed as a question. These correlations help determine exactly how to structure the content you want to perform best on your social networks.

Social Ad Spend

John Wanamaker is credited as telling the world that half of his ad dollars were wasted, he just couldn’t tell you which half. That’s no longer the case when it comes to the powers offered by social data.

Your social data is telling you not only what demographics make up your largest audience, but also which demographics are most engaged with your content.

Big Data Used to Target Engaged Audiences

Screenshot taken 4/28/2014

Based on these engaged audiences, consider how you want to spend your ad dollars. The targeting capabilities that exist within social advertising platforms are unparalleled. Never before have such detailed audiences been targetable. You can now pinpoint audiences by much more than age and location. Go as deep as interests, political affiliations, marital status and even pages with which they have connected. There are virtually no limits to how targeted you can get, or you can go as broad as ‘everyone’. Use the social data you have at your avail in order to effectively target those audiences that have been most active with your brand (or your competitors).

Social Ad Optimization

For the first time in the history of marketing and advertising, we do not need to wait for a campaign to conclude in order to see our results and optimize a program for better performance in a future campaign. We can now make all the necessary changes in order optimize our performance and results in real time.

The data presented in your social ad campaigns tells you exactly how well a campaign is performing as it is taking place. This data should be used as often as possible in order to ensure that the ad spend discussed above is at no point being wasted. As you begin a campaign, several target demographics should be tested and tweaked until you have found the ideal target audience. You never know where it might come from!

Operations Efficiency

On a much higher level, your social data can help you improve the efficiency of your digital operations. It might sound like fantasy, but it isn’t.

When looking through your activity on social, connecting that to your website and observing the dynamic between the two, there are certain key indicators to pay attention to that can help improve efficiency of your overall marketing efforts when it comes to digital. Using an analytics platform like Google Analytics, you can see how your activity on social media extends to your website. Leverage the insights in your social dashboard to see where your most engaged audience is coming from. You can create goals and filters to see which members of these audiences are most likely to convert.

Leverage Big Data from Google Analytics with Goals and Filters

Screenshot taken 4/28/2014

One added benefit with the recent rollout of Universal Analytics out of Beta is that you can now get additional insights into your website’s audience members on top of the activity in which they are engaging, like gender, age and interests. All of this is hugely valuable when it comes to fine tuning your digital strategies in order to ensure that everything you do is geared towards growing your business.

Conclusion

Big data is exciting on a number of levels. Maybe one day it will be able to predict things like natural disasters, epidemics and change society for the better. On a smaller scale, there is a lot of value to your big data on social networks that most brands are not leveraging.

These are just a few of the ways in which your brand can get some value out of your big data. Perhaps the most exciting aspect is that we still don’t know what all of these data can do!

Have you used your social data in a creative way in order to drive business goals? Tell us in the comments below or on Twitter!

How to Leverage Social Insights for an Optimized Content Strategy

When brands find themselves becoming involved in social, they need to answer a simple question: why?

Why are people interested in what you have to say? Why will they bother clicking on your links, liking your pages or posts or sharing your content to broader networks? The answer to this question rests in the content strategy you have created for your brand, and there is no better way to find that answer than by leveraging your social insights.

Where can I find these insights?

Within several networks, there is a world of insights available about your audience. Find out what types of content your audience shares most by looking at the ‘Posts’ section of your Facebook insights. Learn about your audience’s interests in the ‘Followers’ section of your Twitter Analytics. But to really take advantage of social insights about not only your audience, but your industry’s audience, you’ll want to use a higher end social listening tool.

Data gathering tools like Radian6, Sysomos and Crimson Hexagon provide you with actionable reports with data pulled from hundreds of millions of sources across the web; essentially, if people are talking about your industry, you’ll know about it.

Look at where and when conversations take place, what topics people talk about most in your industry and the sentiment around those topics to know where to insert your brand in a positive way.

What do I do once I have collected the data?

Creating your content strategy is all about sharing content that is going to resonate with your audience. This data is going to be the starting point to helping you do that and enter your brand in the industry conversation.

Based on what you have collected, determine the tastes and preferences of your audience by what they are actively discussing.What matters most to them? More important, from a business standpoint, how are you going to position your brand in this conversation in order to appeal to this target demographic?

There is going to be some significant testing involved. You will want to try different types of content and approach the discussion from a number of different angles. Ultimately, your goal is to share content with which your audience can empathize. Then they partake in conversation, share your brand’s message and help expand your reach.

Can you give an example?

Let’s say, for example, you run an office products retailer and one of your key services is that you offer your clients a free return of used ink cartridges for proper recycling. You know that this is a noble cause and a valuable asset in terms of marketing to eco-friendly businesses. Your data collection is going to be all about where people are talking about the benefits of recycling and, perhaps, why businesses should have green initiatives.

From the data you collect, you will want to begin sharing content within these conversations that relates to what is being discussed as well as the service you offer. Once you have caught the attention of your audience, it is time to employ some marketing initiatives in order to boost sales as a result of your content strategy (i.e. content marketing).

It’s a time-consuming process, but it is certainly worth the effort. The value of a well-developed, data-oriented content strategy should never be underestimated.

How are you leveraging social data in order to develop a successful content strategy? Tell us in the comments below or on Twitter!

Also, have a happy Valentine’s Day!

Highlights from Adobe Digital’s Q4 Social Intelligence Report

Every quarter, Adobe releases their Social Intelligence report, and the Q4 report from 2013 showcased some exciting findings!

The Social Intelligence Report from Adobe always results in some shock and awe for marketers. That is mostly due to the fact that there are always huge surges in the numbers of business-friendly stats quarter-over-quarter. Well, the fourth quarter of 2013 was no different, and there was some promising information made available when it comes to Facebook for businesses.

Where’s the value in advertising on Facebook?

Click-through rate on Facebook ads has once again increase 41% quarter-over-quarter (QoQ) and is up 365% year-over-year (YoY). That’s an impressive jump (a 1% increase in CTR every day!).

When it came to the holidays, brands really saw a spike, with a 29% increase in clicks during the holiday season. That said, as Facebook sees the potential that exists with ads, costs are starting to rise. In the last quarter alone, cost per thousand impressions (CPM) on Facebook increased 51%, and rose 437% in 2013. It would make sense that Facebook is driving up the cost of ads considering the fact that click volume is up 125% YoY.

Now is the time for brands to be capitalizing on the potential that exists within the Facebook advertising model. It won’t be long before advertisers on Facebook find themselves paying higher prices.

How have brands performed on Facebook this year?

Engagement with brand posts is up 180% YoY. Now, one could argue that this is due to the fact that there are still plenty of brands entering the Facebook market, and so, logically, it would make sense to see an increase in brand engagement. But impressions are also up 150% YoY, and further engagement (i.e. comments and shares) are up 40%.

Images are also charging ahead. In the last year, engagement rates with image-based on content on Facebook shared by brands is up a whopping 650%! That should give you an idea of what types of content resonate best on the network.

Is Pinterest still the juggernaut it was last year?

Yes, but for different reasons. Revenues from Pinterest-referred visits (i.e. revenues generated from a sale that occurred following a visit from Pinterest) are up 89% YoY and 11% QoQ. What’s more, in the United Kingdom, Pinterest beat out Facebook for referring revenue. That’s a major accomplishment from the network.

Is there a value in marketing my brand on Tumblr?

If you are selling a product, there certainly is. In the last year (since the Yahoo! acquisition) revenue per visit from Tumblr referrals is up 340%. It is clear that this is a network with huge potential (that Yahoo! will presumably take advantage of soon) when it comes to retail and the B2C world of social business.

What’s the biggest takeaway?

Costs for social advertising are still low and impressions, clicks and engagement with brand ads are increasing. Now is the time for brands to take advantage of the phenomenon of social advertising before they find that they missed the boat on inexpensive, highly effective ads.

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